WBEZ | Rahm Emanuel http://www.wbez.org/tags/rahm-emanuel Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chief Keef heads to Hammond to perform, but Mayor shuts it down http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-27/chief-keef-heads-hammond-perform-mayor-shuts-it-down-112482 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Chief-Keef-Finally-Rich.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>After Mayor Rahm Emanuel made it clear he wasn&rsquo;t welcome to perform in Chicago, rapper Chief Keef decided he&rsquo;d appear in Hammond, Ind., this weekend. The mayor and others have said the performer&rsquo;s music promotes violence. The Chicago-bred rapper decided not to appear in person at the hip hop music festival Craze Fest because there are outstanding warrants for him in Illinois. Instead there would be a hologram of his performance. But &ldquo;Chief Keef 3D&rdquo; only made it through one song before organizers and police shut it down and sent people home. WBEZ Northwest Indiana reporter Michael Puente talked to the Hammond mayor about the decision and he gives us details about what happened.</p></p> Mon, 27 Jul 2015 12:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-27/chief-keef-heads-hammond-perform-mayor-shuts-it-down-112482 Mayor Rahm Emanuel names top aide to run Chicago's schools http://www.wbez.org/news/mayor-rahm-emanuel-names-top-aide-run-chicagos-schools-112400 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/claypool flickr cta web.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is turning to a long-time friend and familiar face around City Hall to head the cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools: Forrest Claypool.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve worked with some of the country&rsquo;s great cabinet secretaries at the federal level,&rdquo; the mayor said Thursday morning. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve worked with a number of people at different levels of corporate America, but I&rsquo;ve never seen a manager with Forrest Claypool&rsquo;s capacity for leadership.&rdquo;</p><p>Emanuel announced a number of leadership changes Thursday for what he calls a &ldquo;new chapter&rdquo; of the district&#39;s future. He said while attention is traditionally paid to the CEO, the current challenges that the district faces can&rsquo;t fall on just one person. It needs a &ldquo;team.&rdquo;</p><p>The other members of that team include: Frank Clark, incoming president of the Chicago Board of Education, replacing David Vitale; Denise Little, senior adviser to Claypool; and Janice Jackson, Chief Education Officer, a position left vacant in 2012 after Barbara Byrd-Bennett was promoted to the top job.</p><p>Byrd-Bennett <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-schools-chief-resigns-amid-federal-probe-112114">stepped down</a> as head of CPS in June amid a federal probe involving her former employer, SUPES Academy. That company was quietly awarded a $20.5 million no-bid contract in 2013, just after the CPS closed 50 schools.</p><p>Both Byrd-Bennett and Jean-Claude Brizard, Emanuel&rsquo;s first schools chief who left after the teachers&rsquo; strike in 2012, came from outside Chicago.</p><p>Claypool is the opposite, as he&rsquo;s served at the head of multiple city agencies, like the Chicago Transit Authority and the Chicago Park District. He&rsquo;s also been a mayoral chief of staff three times: Twice with Mayor Richard J. Daley, and most recently under Emanuel. Claypool and Emanuel have been friends since their <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/who-was-25-year-old-rahm-emanuel-108327">twenties</a>, when they worked together on political campaigns. The mayor said it was with &ldquo;some trepidation&rdquo; that he allowed Claypool to leave his office, but that he was the &ldquo;right person at the right time to help lead CPS at this moment.&rdquo;</p><p>Known for cleaning up financial messes, Claypool takes over the top CPS job at a critical time. The district is dealing with a $1 billion dollar deficit in the next fiscal year, and recently <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-school-budgets-reflect-dire-finances-112364">announced </a>major cuts to schools.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ll deal with what we can deal with...and that is to manage the system as best as possible. I&rsquo;m committed to bringing the best people, the best and the brightest, and providing every level of support, in every conceivable way to our hard-working teachers and principals who are on the front lines every single day,&rdquo; Claypool said.</p><p>The district is also in the middle of contract negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union.</p><p>CTU President Karen Lewis said she spoke with Claypool Wednesday morning and told him to &ldquo;Run, Forrest, Run.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I think the job is probably almost undoable, to be perfectly honest, at this point,&rdquo; Lewis said.</p><p>Lewis called Claypool &ldquo;a fixer&rdquo; and told reporters she figured he would be the next schools chief when union leadership met with him last week.</p><p>Claypool will officially begin his new job at the end of July, alleviating school board Vice President Jesse Ruiz of the interim role he&rsquo;s filled for the past three months. Emanuel thanked Ruiz for his personal and professional &ldquo;sacrifice&rdquo; in a very &ldquo;challenging moment&rdquo; for the school district.</p><p>Ruiz will return as vice president of the school board. But he&rsquo;ll no longer be seated next to current board president David Vitale. Instead, Frank Clark will take the top seat on the Board of Education.</p><p>Clark, the former CEO of Com-Ed, is a familiar name. He chaired the <a href="http://www.schoolutilization.com/">Commission on School Utilization</a>, which suggested that CPS had the <a href="https://docs.google.com/a/schoolutilization.com/viewer?a=v&amp;pid=sites&amp;srcid=c2Nob29sdXRpbGl6YXRpb24uY29tfGNvbW1pc3Npb24tb24tc2Nob29sLXV0aWxpemF0aW9ufGd4OjRiNzFjMWEyNGIxZWU0YmU">capacity to close 80 schools</a>. Ultimately, CPS decided to close 50. After the closings, Mayor Emanuel promised he wouldn&rsquo;t shutter any schools for five years. Asked Thursday, Clark said he doesn&rsquo;t see that changing.</p><p>&ldquo;The short answer is no,&rdquo; Clark said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t see any need for any additional closures at this point.&rdquo;</p><p>Clark is also the co-founder and namesake of Rowe-Clark Math and Science Academy, a public charter school on the west side run by the Noble Network of Charter Schools.</p><p>The replacement of Vitale drew speculation that it was related to the unanimous vote on the no-bid contract that he oversaw and that ultimately cost Byrd-Bennett her job. Others pointed to a series of <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/watchdog/cpsbonds/ct-chicago-public-schools-bond-deals-met-20141107-story.html#page=1">Chicago Tribune articles</a> about debt swaps made under Vitale during his tenure as Chief Financial Officer in the late 2000s.</p><p>But Emanuel scoffed at that, saying it was Vitale&rsquo;s idea that a new CEO start off with a new school board president. The mayor said he was at first reluctant to accept Vitale&rsquo;s resignation, adding that he had to go swimming a few times before he made the final decision.</p><p>The other two appointments were less challenging &mdash; both are veteran educators in CPS. Denise Little will be a senior adviser to Claypool. She was most recently Chief of Network Offices, middle management that oversees clusters of schools that are grouped by geography. In 2012, she ran one of those networks on the west side, but was promoted by Byrd-Bennett to take on the new central office role. CTU&rsquo;s Lewis said Little was involved in contract negotiations in 2012, but hasn&rsquo;t been at the table in the most recent talks.</p><p>Janice Jackson also ran one of CPS&rsquo;s networks on the west side. Before that, she was a principal at Westinghouse College Prep and Al Raby High School, and a history and economics teacher at South Shore. A graduate of Hyde Park High School, Jackson said the decision to take the position of Chief Education Officer was &ldquo;not professional, but personal.&rdquo;</p><p>Jackson was cited as one of five &ldquo;<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2009-10-05/news/0910050158_1_lifeway-foods-chicago-public-schools-timeline">influential young Chicagoans</a>&rdquo; in the Chicago Tribune in 2009.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is WBEZ&rsquo;s Education reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezeducation">@wbezeducation</a>. Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s City Hall reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Thu, 16 Jul 2015 11:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/mayor-rahm-emanuel-names-top-aide-run-chicagos-schools-112400 Obama administration announces new housing segregation rules http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-administration-announces-new-housing-segregation-rules-112345 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Julian-Castro-AP.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em><strong style="font-weight: bold; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); letter-spacing: normal; orphans: auto; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: 1; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px;"><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 20px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); background-color: rgb(249, 249, 249);">▲&nbsp;</span>LISTEN </strong>The head of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro was in Chicago Wednesday to announce a new rule to help communities across the country meet fair housing obligations. WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter Natalie Moore attended the event and joined host Melba Lara to explain what it may mean for Chicago.</em></p><p>The nation&#39;s head of urban housing policy announced new regulations Wednesday aimed at fulfilling promises of the 1968 Fair Housing Act by promoting racially integrated neighborhoods.</p><p>&quot;The truth is for too long federal efforts have often fallen short,&quot; Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro said at a news conference next to new public housing apartments and a playground on Chicago&#39;s South Side.</p><p>Besides banning outright discrimination, the 1968 law required cities that receive federal housing money to promote equal opportunity and access to housing regardless of race, origin, religion, sex or disability. But little was done at the time or in the years since to explain precisely what the law&#39;s requirement to &quot;affirmatively further&quot; such goals meant or how to achieve that.</p><p>The Obama administration&#39;s changes aim to provide cities with specific guidance and reams of data on integration and segregation patterns, racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty and areas of high housing need.</p><p>Communities will be required to set goals based on the data for smarter investments in housing, schools and transportation that will be closely monitored, Castro said. The new rules will be phased in, though no timetable was announced.</p><p>The new initiative recognizes that half a century after the height of the civil rights movement, parts of America remain divided along racial lines when it comes to access to affordable housing in good neighborhoods with decent schools, public transportation, jobs, grocery stores and opportunity.</p><p>&quot;Where a child grows up shouldn&#39;t dictate where they end up,&quot; Castro said.</p><p>To illustrate the persistent inequality, he cited data showing that a child in the Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood of St. Louis can expect to live 18 fewer years than one 10 miles away in the suburb of Clayton, Missouri.</p><p>From Chicago to Ferguson, Missouri, to Baltimore, people remain physically divided, said Philip Nyden, who studies segregated neighborhoods.</p><p>&quot;This is the federal government saying &#39;This can&#39;t continue to go on,&#39; &quot; said Nyden, director of the Center for Urban Research and Learning at Chicago&#39;s Loyola University.</p><p>He called the announcement a good step, though he cautioned against any expectation of quick results, given that the problem is so entrenched.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel, speaking alongside Castro, said it was no coincidence Chicago was chosen as a backdrop for the announcement, given the city&#39;s history of using housing policy and real estate practices to keep blacks confined to poor neighborhoods.</p><p>&quot;We have a long history as it relates to fair housing,&quot; Emanuel said while standing at the site of what was once Stateway Gardens, one of the city&#39;s neglected high-rise public housing projects. Chicago demolished it and the other projects in the late 1990s and early 2000s.</p><p>On Wednesday, Emanuel cut the ribbon on the latest low-rise apartment building to replace Stateway on what&#39;s now known as Park Boulevard, an example of the new kind of public housing developments that federal officials are promoting.</p><p>The development, open to people of various income levels and with a mix of homeowners and renters, is dotted with town house-style buildings, neatly landscaped walkways, playgrounds and open spaces.</p><p>Most importantly, Emanuel said, a vibrant area of opportunity is developing around the complex.</p><p>Retailers, including a Starbucks, have moved in. To the west is U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox; to the east is a math and sciences charter school; and just to the north is the Illinois Institute of Technology. Three commuter train lines shuttle residents downtown and toward higher-paying jobs.</p><p>Roberta Wright, 44, loves the area. She lives there with her two adult children, a son who&#39;s in the Army and a daughter attending Illinois State University.</p><p>&quot;I have some great neighbors. It&#39;s really diverse. So that&#39;s a plus for me,&quot; she said. &quot;There&#39;s not a lot of riffraff.&quot;</p></p> Wed, 08 Jul 2015 14:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-administration-announces-new-housing-segregation-rules-112345 Despite tensions, city lets police-community meetings dwindle http://www.wbez.org/news/despite-tensions-city-lets-police-community-meetings-dwindle-112340 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/CAPS-Lindsey-regular.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago shootings and murders are up this year. In many cases, police officers are having a hard time finding witnesses willing to talk.</p><p>This is not a new problem. It&rsquo;s a reason Chicago helped pioneer what&rsquo;s known as community policing &mdash; the sort of crime fighting that focuses on trust between officers and residents. But a cornerstone of that approach is crumbling, according to internal police numbers obtained by WBEZ.</p><p>That cornerstone consists of meetings that bring together residents and cops across the city. The meetings, designed to take place monthly in each of the city&rsquo;s 280 police beats, made Chicago policing a national model in the 1990s.</p><p>The city called its approach the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy. CAPS beat-meeting attendance peaked in 2002, when the citywide total was 70,024.</p><p>Since then turnout has fallen by more than two-thirds, according to the police figures, obtained through an Illinois Freedom of Information Act request. During Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s administration, it has dropped every year. Last year&rsquo;s attendance &mdash; 20,420 &mdash; was less than half the turnout in 2010, the year before Emanuel took office.</p><p data-pym-src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-dailygraphics/dailygraphics/graphics/caps-attendance/child.html">&nbsp;</p><script src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-dailygraphics/dailygraphics/graphics/caps-attendance/js/lib/pym.js" type="text/javascript"></script><p>One reason for the decline could be simple. Compared to when Chicago launched CAPS, crime is down. So residents have fewer problems to take to the police.</p><p>But that&rsquo;s not the whole story. Over the years, the city has cut down on CAPS officers and the program&rsquo;s paid civilian organizers. It has cut overtime for officers to attend the beat meetings. And it has cut the number of meetings. Residents have fewer opportunities to participate.</p><p>&ldquo;Most police officers hated beat meetings,&rdquo; said former Chicago cop Howard Lindsey, who helped with CAPS in the city&rsquo;s Englewood neighborhood before retiring from the police department last year. &ldquo;The officers didn&rsquo;t believe in CAPS. They just felt like it was a waste of time to actually go to these meetings and listen to the citizens complain.&rdquo;</p><p>Emanuel says the city remains committed to community policing. This year he created a top police position to focus on it. Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, for his part, is on an &ldquo;outreach tour&rdquo; this summer. The tour consists of closed-door meetings with residents of more than a dozen neighborhoods.</p><p>The department says it is also developing a new community-policing strategy, but so far is not talking with WBEZ about what role the CAPS beat meetings would play.</p><p>Our audio story (listen above) looks at the status of the beat meetings through the eyes of Lindsey as well as a former civilian beat-meeting facilitator in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, a Loyola University Chicago sociologist who studied CAPS after working three decades as a Chicago police officer, and a current beat-meeting attendee in West Humboldt Park.</p><p>That attendee, an elementary-school clerk named Antwan McHenry, says the beat meetings could play an important role as police officers face more suspicion due to events in places like Ferguson and Baltimore.</p><p>&ldquo;African Americans have been taught things like, &lsquo;You don&rsquo;t talk to police, you don&rsquo;t snitch,&rsquo; &rdquo; McHenry said. &ldquo;So if you grow up thinking that, you don&rsquo;t get to see the other part &mdash; like when, if your neighbor gets shot, you have to work hand-in-hand with the police to solve murders and to solve crimes.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 08 Jul 2015 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/despite-tensions-city-lets-police-community-meetings-dwindle-112340 CPS, Emanuel warn of deep cuts, layoffs to school district http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-emanuel-warn-deep-cuts-layoffs-school-district-112301 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rahmap.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is proposing &ldquo;a grand bargain&rdquo; to fix the financial woes of Chicago Public Schools.</p><p>The proposal cuts $200 million from schools, raises property taxes, asks teachers to pay more into their pensions, and pushes Springfield to increase overall school funding.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody would have to give up something, and nobody would have to give up everything,&rdquo; Emanuel said.</p><p>The mayor&rsquo;s proposal came as state lawmakers were entertaining a bill from Illinois Senate President John Cullerton that would freeze property taxes and eliminate grants currently promised to CPS in exchange for picking up about $200 million of the cash-strapped school district&rsquo;s &ldquo;normal&rdquo; pension costs over the next two years.</p><p>The Chicago Teachers Union doesn&rsquo;t support Emanuel&rsquo;s plan and also scoffed at his longstanding push to consolidate the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund with the Teachers Retirement System, which includes all suburban and downstate teachers, and is equally underfunded. Currently, Chicago taxpayers pay into both CTPF and TRS, something Emanuel calls &ldquo;inequitable.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Cuts will hit classrooms, special education and start times</span></p><p>Emanuel and CPS officials said schools will start on time this fall, but not without deep cuts.&nbsp;</p><p>District officials are still in the process of developing the budget for next school year, but CPS Interim CEO Jesse Ruiz <a href="https://www.scribd.com/doc/270216697/CPS-reducing-expenses-by-200-Million" target="_blank">outlined</a> the following cuts they&rsquo;ve already determined they&rsquo;ll make:</p><ul><li>Eliminate 5,300 coaching stipends for elementary school sports. ($3.2 million);</li><li>Change magnet school transportation by having students report to local attendance area school to be picked up. ($2.3 million);</li><li>Shift start times for some high schools back 45 minutes. ($9.2 million);</li><li>Eliminate 200 vacant special education positions. ($14 million);</li><li>Cut startup funding for charters and alternative schools. ($15.8 million);</li><li>Reduce professional development in turnaround schools run by AUSL ($11.6 million).</li></ul><p>&ldquo;In my view, they&rsquo;re intolerable, they&rsquo;re unacceptable and they&rsquo;re totally unconscionable,&rdquo; Emanuel said of the cuts. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re a result of a political system that sprung a leak and now it&rsquo;s a geyser.&rdquo;</p><p>The cuts do not solve the district&rsquo;s pension problems. Late Tuesday, just before the deadline, the school district paid its full pension payment, a hefty sum of $634 million, for 2015. But that payment was only to close out last year&rsquo;s budget. The Emanuel administration has already asked the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund to push $500 million of the required 2016 payment to 2017.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Where will the revenue come from?</span></p><p>Chicago Public Schools officials and Emanuel find themselves in the middle of a delicate dance with Springfield: They take every opportunity to blame Springfield for the financial mess the district is in, but at the same time look for lawmakers to bail them out.</p><p>If Springfield doesn&rsquo;t go along with Emanuel&rsquo;s idea to merge all teacher pensions into a single fund, he wants them to contribute the &ldquo;normal&rdquo; pension cost, which amounts to about $200 million annually.</p><p>This portion of his plan coincides with a <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/fulltext.asp?DocName=09900SB0316sam001&amp;GA=99&amp;SessionId=88&amp;DocTypeId=SB&amp;LegID=84277&amp;DocNum=0316&amp;GAID=13&amp;Session=" target="_blank">bill</a> that&rsquo;s currently floating around Springfield. Senate President John Cullerton sponsored an amendment that would kick in that annual &ldquo;normal cost,&rdquo; and also freezes property taxes for two years. Cullerton says it&rsquo;s his attempt to compromise with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who&rsquo;s advocated freezing property taxes. The bill would also require the state to create a task force to overhaul Illinois&rsquo; school funding formula.</p><p>Cullerton&rsquo;s bill made it through its first legislative hurdle with only Democratic support, but Cullerton said he&rsquo;d continue working with Republicans to get bipartisan support.</p><p>And then there&rsquo;s that thing Chicagoans have been waiting to hear details about: A property tax hike. Emanuel said without Springfield&rsquo;s help on teacher pension funding, he will restore the CPS pension levy to the pre-1995 tax rate of .26 percent. Emanuel estimates that would bring in around $175 million.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t easily go to taxpayers, but part of a solution is you&rsquo;re willing to give up things you don&rsquo;t support, in an effort to get other things you think are essential to a solution,&rdquo; Emanuel said.</p><p>Emanuel said he will also ask teachers to contribute the full 9 percent to cover their own pension costs. He said he will also put the city&rsquo;s block grants on the table, in exchange for the state to increase education funding by up to 25 percent.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">How we got here</span></p><p>These pension problems stem from 15 years of neglect and mismanagement at CPS and the city.</p><p>From 1995 to 2004, CPS did not make a single payment to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, and instead used revenues to pay for operations. From 2011 to 2013, the school district got a &ldquo;pension holiday&rdquo; that temporarily shrunk payments, but didn&rsquo;t make a dent in the unfunded liabilities.</p><p>Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, said the district should be &ldquo;front and center taking blame&rdquo; for &ldquo;using the pension system very much like a credit card, running up debt and deferring payment of it until now.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;The City of Chicago has known that more money was going to have to go into the pension systems in 2015,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;They had four and a half years to plan for it and they did nothing.&rdquo;</p><p>Emanuel disputes that he&rsquo;s been putting the pension problem off, telling reporters Wednesday that over the past few years, &ldquo;we negotiated with the laborers and municipal fund, we negotiated with police and fire and we negotiated with park district employees and reached pension agreements and passed a number of them...so I would slightly beg to differ the characterization that we were passive.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Martire didn&rsquo;t place all of the blame at the mayor&rsquo;s feet. He said state lawmakers are equally at fault for not contributing to Chicago teachers&rsquo; pensions, like they once promised and by generally underfunding public schools.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;When you have such significant underfunding from the state, the mayoral administrations and the administrations of the CPS are going to look to beg, borrow and steal,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And just simply write an IOU into the system saying, &lsquo;We&rsquo;ll pay you back someday at compounded interest.&rsquo; And someday has arrived.&rdquo;</p><p><em>WBEZ&rsquo;s Tony Arnold contributed to this story from Springfield.</em></p><p><span style="font-size: 24px;">A timeline of CPS pension problems</span></p><p><strong>1981</strong> &ndash; Chicago Board of Education starts picking up 7 percent of the 9 percent employee pension contribution, in exchange for no salary raises.</p><p><strong>1995</strong> &ndash; Illinois General Assembly gives control of the city&rsquo;s public schools to Chicago&rsquo;s mayor and agrees to let CPS manage the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund. The dedicated pension levy is eliminated and for 10 years, CPS doesn&rsquo;t pay anything into the Fund, instead using revenue that should have been earmarked for pensions on other things, like operations, new school expansion and staff raises.</p><p><strong>2005</strong> &ndash; Chicago Teachers Pension Fund &ldquo;funded ratio&rdquo; drops to 79 percent.</p><p><strong>2006</strong> &ndash; Board starts making payments into CTPF again.</p><p><strong>2008</strong>&nbsp;&ndash; Stock market crashes, dropping the Fund&rsquo;s &ldquo;funded ratio&rdquo; even further.</p><p><strong>2010</strong> &ndash; CPS CEO Ron Huberman gets a pension holiday from Springfield. From 2011-2013, CPS is only required to pay $200 million year &ndash; instead of $600 million &ndash; pushing ballooning payments to 2014.</p><p><strong>2012</strong> &ndash; The &ldquo;funded ratio&rdquo; drops to 53.9 percent.</p><p><strong>2014</strong> - $612.7 million payment</p><p><strong>2015</strong> - $634 million payment</p><p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="undefined" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_76159" scrolling="no" src="https://www.scribd.com/embeds/270216697/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 13:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-emanuel-warn-deep-cuts-layoffs-school-district-112301 Contract talks break down between Chicago teachers and city http://www.wbez.org/news/contract-talks-break-down-between-chicago-teachers-and-city-112257 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IMG_2459.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Contract talks between the Chicago Teachers Union and the Board of Education ended Thursday with no agreement in sight, union officials say.</p><p>CTU President Karen Lewis said the union&rsquo;s latest proposal was cost neutral&mdash;no annual raises, no cost-of-living increases&mdash;but did ask the Board to continue picking up 7 percent of the 9 percent employee pension contribution.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re very clear that they have a serious fiscal issue,&rdquo; Lewis told reporters. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re willing to work within that.&rdquo;</p><p>Lewis said the proposal would&rsquo;ve been a one-year deal that would have eliminated some paperwork and excessive standardized tests.</p><p>But the Board apparently didn&rsquo;t bite.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued a statement that he&rsquo;s encouraged &ldquo;both sides finally acknowledge that CPS is in a fiscal crisis and lacks the resources to provide additional compensation.&rdquo;</p><p>He urged CTU leadership to come back to the bargaining table.</p><p>According to the union&rsquo;s lawyer, Robert Bloch, there are no bargaining meetings scheduled.</p><p>CPS officials could not be immediately reached to comment on the latest proposals, but the district has so far not commented on the most recent round of negotiations.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>The current teachers&rsquo; contract is set to expire next Tuesday.</p></p> Thu, 25 Jun 2015 17:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/contract-talks-break-down-between-chicago-teachers-and-city-112257 Chicago moves closer to borrowing $1.1 billion http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-moves-closer-borrowing-11-billion-112195 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rahmfile.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">The cash-strapped city of Chicago is one step closer to borrowing $1.1 billion in general obligation bonds, in an attempt to shore up the city&rsquo;s finances. The complex borrowing package, backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, passed through the city&rsquo;s Finance Committee Monday.</p><p dir="ltr">Pitched as a way to &ldquo;clean up&rdquo; the city&rsquo;s balance sheet and move away from unsustainable financial practices of the past, the bonds would convert some of the city&rsquo;s short-term debt into longer-term, fixed-rate debt, pay down city settlements, and refinance old terminated interest rate &ldquo;swaps,&rdquo; &nbsp;among other things.</p><p dir="ltr">The city&rsquo;s new Chief Financial Officer&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/mayor/press_room/press_releases/2015/may/mayor-rahm-emanuel-names-carole-l--brown-as-city-of-chicago-chie.html">Carole Brown</a> told aldermen Monday that it would be &ldquo;irresponsible&rdquo; for the city not to sign off on this borrowing plan.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;This is not kicking the can, this is not shuffling the deck chairs, this is a real step toward doing what I think all of you are committed to doing, and that you want to see us do, which is return to a state of more fiscal stability,&rdquo; Brown said. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">According to Brown, the borrowing package is both part of the financial plan Emanuel pitched last spring, and a reaction to the recent credit rating downgrade by Moody&rsquo;s. Brown said the city is &ldquo;technically in default&rdquo; and &ldquo;there would be the potential that we would have to come up with close to $900 million to pay back the banks if we did not execute this transaction.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The city&rsquo;s plan for the $1.1 billion includes:</p><ul><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">$170 million for the first two years of interest</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">$151 million will be used to convert variable rate general obligation bonds into fixed rate bonds</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">$192 million will be spent to end &ldquo;swaps&rdquo;</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">$35 million will be used for the 2015 loan payment for the old Michael Reese hospital site</p></li></ul><p dir="ltr">Many aldermen were skeptical of the plan. Some voiced concern that there weren&rsquo;t enough diverse banks or firms involved in the deal. Others, like Ald. John Arena (45) were concerned that the city hasn&rsquo;t put forth any new revenue ideas.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We get fines here and fees here, we know it&rsquo;s not enough. Everybody knows it&rsquo;s not enough but ignores this issue. And when we have 1.1 billion dollars put in front of us, and say &lsquo;approve this&rsquo; without at least a look at a plan for revenue at this point...this is irresponsible,&rdquo; Arena said.</p><p dir="ltr">The lone no vote was cast by progressive Ald. Scott Waguespack. The full City Council is scheduled to vote on the package Wednesday.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s city politics reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p></p> Tue, 16 Jun 2015 00:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-moves-closer-borrowing-11-billion-112195 CPS acknowledges errors, takes steps to count dropouts correctly http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-acknowledges-errors-takes-steps-count-dropouts-correctly-112180 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/CurieHighSchool_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Chicago school officials are taking steps to make sure dropouts aren&rsquo;t being mislabeled to make the city&rsquo;s graduation rates look better.</p><p dir="ltr">The action comes after WBEZ and the Better Government Association <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-touts-bogus-graduation-rate-112163">reported widespread problems</a> in how student were being classified when they left high school. Thousands were labeled as leaving the city, but then supposedly enrolled in GED programs. State law and policy dictate that students who leave districts to go to GED programs are dropouts.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;CPS is committed to ensuring the accuracy of our data, and we are taking four additional concrete steps to further guarantee the integrity of our data,&rdquo; Interim CEO Jesse Ruiz said in an email sent late Wednesday.</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-touts-bogus-graduation-rate-112163" target="_blank"><strong>Related: Emanuel touts bogus graduation rates</strong></a></p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">Those steps are: doing random spot checks of all school transfer data; making principals sign a document taking full responsibility for making sure transfers are, in fact, real transfers; requiring school staff to attend trainings, and referring any questionable activity to the law department and the district&rsquo;s inspector general.</p><p dir="ltr">Chicago Public Schools Inspector General Nicholas Schuler first looked into the problem and <a href="http://cps.edu/About_CPS/Departments/Documents/OIG_FY_2014_AnnualReport.pdf">reported wrongdoing</a> in January.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Two high schools had been improperly coding students as transfers to GED programs,&rdquo; he said. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Schuler also found large groups of students were listed as &ldquo;transferred to Mexico,&rdquo; but records didn&rsquo;t include the name or address of any school.</p><p dir="ltr">On Wednesday, Schuler said his office plans to investigate the problem across all 140 high schools.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We&rsquo;re going to hopefully determine the extent of the problem and find out just where responsibility lies for those problems,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re sort of hamstrung to some degree by the size of our office, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean we won&rsquo;t do it. It just might take a little longer than it would if we had more people.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Schuler&rsquo;s office gets hundreds of thousands of reports of fraud every year. He couldn&rsquo;t say exactly how many dealt with bad data.</p><p dir="ltr">The WBEZ and Better Government Association looked at only 25 of 140 high schools -- the ones with the largest numbers of students removed from the graduation rate calculation. A request is pending for the remaining 115. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The errors at that small sampling of schools would lower the publicly reported graduation rate from 69.4 percent to about 67 percent. It is a conservative estimate and would likely be lowered further when all schools are factored in.</p><p dir="ltr">Despite the errors in the underlying data, CPS Chief of Accountability John Barker insists the graduation rate is even higher than it&rsquo;s been reported and will continue to be.</p><p dir="ltr">Elaine Allensworth, executive director of University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research said, &ldquo;There&rsquo;s always doubt about what the exact number is, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean the trends in graduation rates aren&rsquo;t real.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Still, district officials and researchers don&rsquo;t dispute the fact the data is riddled with errors.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>. Sarah Karp is a reporter for the <a href="http://www.bettergov.org/">Better Government Association</a>. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/sskedreporter">@SSKedreporter</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 11 Jun 2015 16:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-acknowledges-errors-takes-steps-count-dropouts-correctly-112180 Emanuel pushes Springfield for changes to police, fire pensions http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-pushes-springfield-changes-police-fire-pensions-112112 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Rahm.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel has long said a property tax increase for Chicago residents is the &ldquo;last resort&rdquo; to cover a scheduled increase in payments owed to the city&rsquo;s cash-strapped police and fire pensions.</p><p>To avoid a hike, he&rsquo;s asking Illinois state legislators to approve changes to the funding schedule for those two retirement funds - in addition to adding future payments to the pensions from a new source of revenue created by a potential new, city-owned casino.</p><p>Emanuel&rsquo;s administration says that a 5-year-old state law forces the city to pay an extra $600 million this year toward its cash-strapped retirement funds for police officers and firefighters.</p><p>Those pensions are severely under-funded, so Emanuel wants lawmakers to pass a bill that would put off those payments for a few years - in exchange for later adding larger payments and putting the pensions on a better funding schedule over the next 40 years, rather than the current 25-year plan.</p><p>Under the extended schedule, the pensions would be funded at 90 percent in 2055, rather than the current rates of around 25 percent funded. If the bill is not passed, said Steve Koch, Emanuel&rsquo;s deputy mayor, then property taxes could skyrocket.</p><p>&ldquo;I think this is always a matter of, in this sort of situation, of trying to reach a medium,&rdquo; Koch explained, &ldquo;where you protect the funds, which has been an objective of ours and an objective of the mayor since he took office, and equally protect taxpayers.&rdquo;</p><p>But Republicans criticized Emanuel&rsquo;s plan, saying the mayor&rsquo;s office is in a &ldquo;fantasyland,&rdquo; -- because the bill says it would take money from a Chicago casino, or casinos, to pay for pensions. Casinos that, as of yet, have not been approved by state lawmakers.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re essentially in a fantasyland here, assuming that you&rsquo;re going to get a casino and all the revenue associated with that casino, with us not even seeing a bill that relates to that,&rdquo; said State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton).</p><p>Lawmakers have been negotiating a gambling expansion bill behind closed doors, which could include a city-run casino; but so far a compromise has not been introduced to lawmakers. Koch said that if a casino is not approved, then the city would rely on cuts to city services or increases in fees or revenues to pay for the administration&rsquo;s proposed pension bill.</p><p>Meantime, the union representing Chicago firefighters, support the administration&rsquo;s pension plan, unlike other labor unions raising recent court challenges over previous efforts to change other city and state funds</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve been pretty conservative with our benefits over the years, so we don&rsquo;t pull no shenanigans in our fund,&rdquo; said Dan Fabrizio, with the Chicago Firefighters Union.</p><p>The measure was approved by the House and Senate with mostly Democratic support. Gov. Bruce Rauner&#39;s office has not commented on his position on the bill.</p><p>Tony Arnold is WBEZ&rsquo;s Illinois state politics reporter. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.&nbsp;</p></p> Sat, 30 May 2015 11:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-pushes-springfield-changes-police-fire-pensions-112112 Emanuel says no 'three-strike rule' over parks for Riot Fest http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/emanuel-says-no-three-strike-rule-over-parks-riot-fest-112064 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/riot fest flickr.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>It looks like Riot Fest has a new home in Chicago.</p><p>Aldermen involved in the back and forth over the music festival&rsquo;s location said that after three years in Humboldt Park, the punk and rock music festival will move this year a few miles away in Douglas Park.</p><p>Many Chicagoans were unhappy with the condition of the West Side park after last summer&rsquo;s festival. Alderman Roberto Maldonado (26) said residents of Humboldt Park and the surrounding neighborhoods have been complaining to him about the state of the grounds ever since concert-goers and organizers left.</p><p>&ldquo;Four Sundays ago...two of the diamonds were unusable for the opening games of the softball league,&rdquo; Maldonado said. &ldquo;The impact to the local economy, although it was substantial the first and second year, the third year it wasn&rsquo;t there.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>So for now, Riot Fest is taking its party elsewhere. In a statement, Riot Fest founder Michael Petryshyn said he met with Ald. George Cardenas (12) about using Douglas Park and was, &ldquo;ecstatic&rdquo; at the response he got from their new aldermanic partner.</p><p>&ldquo;We are so very excited to get to know our new neighbors and to work with them to hold an event that is beneficial to the community, local businesses and the resident,&rdquo; Petryshyn said. &ldquo;Essentially, everything we have brought to Humboldt Park over the last three years.&rdquo;</p><p>After Wednesday&rsquo;s City Council meeting, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he was pleased the festival chose to stay in the city, but issued a warning to organizers: Leave Douglas Park the way you find it.</p><p>&ldquo;They now know the people of Humboldt Park don&rsquo;t want them, I don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s in their best interest to have a second park say &lsquo;We don&rsquo;t want you&rsquo; in Chicago,&rdquo; Emanuel told reporters. &ldquo;So they&rsquo;ve been put on notice to be a better citizen in holding this festival because if you go 0-for-2, we don&rsquo;t have a three-strike rule in the city of Chicago for you.&rdquo;</p><p>Ald. Cardenas said the Park District is set to put down a bond as insurance in the event Douglas Park sees some damage.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ political reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em>.</p></p> Wed, 20 May 2015 16:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/emanuel-says-no-three-strike-rule-over-parks-riot-fest-112064